Trace Your Shadow

Notice the position, size, and shape of your shadow.

Materials

  • chalk (if you can draw on the ground)
  • crayons, markers, and large sheets of paper (if you can’t draw on the ground)
  • camera

Key Science Concepts

  • A shadow is created by an object blocking the light.
  • You can make shadows with your body and other objects.
  • A shadow can show the shape of an object, but it can’t show colors or details (such as a smile or a frown).

Vocabulary

Encourage children to use vocabulary related to shadows, like sun, light, outline, shape, blocking, and trace. Emphasize science process words like describe, compare, notice, and observe.

Directions

Tell children that they will be going outside and tracing their shadows.

  1. Bring children outside to a place where you can draw on the ground (pavement, sidewalk, etc.). Ask, Can you see your shadow? Where is it? (Next to you, behind you, in front of you, etc.)
  2. Using a child as a model, demonstrate how to draw the outline of someone’s shadow. Make the outline with chalk, or trace it with crayons on a large piece of paper.
  3. Then split children into pairs and have them take turns drawing their partner’s shadow. 
  4. Have children compare the size of their shadows to themselves by lying down next to 
their shadow’s tracing.
  5. Next to each shadow tracing or chalk outline, write the child’s name and what the child says or notices 
about his or her shadow.  

Reflect and Share

Gather the children to talk about their shadow tracings. Ask,

  • What can you tell about what a person looks like from their shadow?
  • What CAN’T you tell by looking at a person’s shadow?
  • Why do you think shadows show some things and not others?

If children traced shadows on paper, place the tracings in the Shadow Museum learning center for them to explore later.